Michael and Naomi Domes and their four children make up a healthy, happy family that enjoys getting into the outdoors and hitting the roads and trails on their bicycles.
And they believe everybody should have the same opportunity.
The Qualicum Beach family is embarking on a 1,200-plus kilometre ride in Europe this spring they’ve named Aktiver Zyklos, German for active cycle. The trip is part of a larger quest to raise money for a pair of specially adapted Huka cycles, which would provide the opportunity for physically disabled seniors and youth alike to hit the trails in and around their hometown.
“We love the idea of traveling with our children, but we didn’t want to travel just to traveling,” said Naomi Domes. “We wanted to travel to make a difference, to do something more. So we decided, hey, if we went for a cycling trip, could we do something more to help people out?”
Before departing for Europe, the family will hold a fundraising event on March 11 at Family Ford, at 410 Island Hwy E. in Parksville. The event will feature a barbecue from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., staffed in part by some of the potential beneficiaries of the accessible cycles that Michael and Naomi Domes work with professionally.
Michael is a geriatric home and community care worker for Island Health in Port Alberni who also works with geriatric residential care in Parksville. Naomi is a paediatric physical therapist who contracts with School District 69 for assessments and consultation, and also works privately with mid-Island families through the Ministry of Child and Family Development.
Each of them saw the same challenges to accessibility in their very different clientele, and determined that the Huka cycles would suit those with disabilities in both the geriatric and paediatric communities.
“These cycles can be used from A to Z, from zero to 99 (years),” said Naomi. “You can adapt them to any age, and to whatever your ability is, from an autistic child to a senior who is arthritic.”
The bikes are adaptable, but they are not cheap. The Domes family hopes to raise more than $16,000 for one Duet tandem wheelchair bicycle with footrest, and for one Orion twin tandem with electric power assist. The cycles are made by a Dutch company specializing in mobility and active rehabilitation products, said Naomi.
Standing, from left, Ethan, Liesl, Micah and Aiden Domes assist their mother, Naomi, with a presentation to the Qualicum Community Education and Wellness Society last week in Qualicum Beach. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS
In addition to its fundraiser in Parksville this month and its tour of the Eurovelo 15 track through six European countries, the family has partnered with the Qualicum Community Education and Wellness Society (QCEWS) in the project.
“QCEWS is a group of like-minded community members committed to improving the quality of life for people who live, work, study and play in the Qualicum Beach community,” said Bill Preston, QCEWS chair.
Under the larger umbrella of QCEWS, Preston said, there are a series of tables that take on support of specific projects to help those with different needs. The A-to-Z cycle project will fall under the Universal Access Qualicum Beach table, which will assist the Domes in their fundraising efforts by collecting and managing funds through its website, qcews.com.
“There will be identification of the Domes family project and a way to donate right there on the site,” said Preston. “That’s a place where we can collect that money for them and manage it, and when they’re ready to purchase the cycles they can we can sign it out.”
While the Domes are raising the money and purchasing the bikes, they will become the property of QCEWS for its work in the community. Currently working out of the Leigh House in downtown Qualicum Beach, the society soon expects to move into a spot in the Qualicum Commons.
“We want it as a place for accessible exercise,” said Holly Carnegie Letcher of QCEWS. “So that would be a location where those bikes would be stored and being able to access them and sign them out. Right now that’s where we’re thinking we’ll be and we’ll work to get grants for accessible workout equipment, as well. Right now, there’s nowhere in Oceanside area that’s accessible for gym equipment.”
For the Domes children — Ethan, 13; Liesl, 11; Micah, 9; and Aiden, 5 — this spring’s trip won’t be all fun and games.
The youngsters are all home-schooled, and as part of a curriculum block will be writing reports and filing video blogs of the trip throughout the A-Z tour.
“It’s a great way to teach children, but also for them to think beyond themselves,” said Naomi. “I think it’s important for kids to have the knowledge we are fortunate, and not everybody is in the boat we are.”
For more information or questions for the Domes’, call 250-244-1814. To donate, visit their GoFundMe page, at www.gofundme.com/2szehyss.